There had to be a way of opening this guy up, Clint thought as he walked into The Dugout bar the next afternoon. I've got to find it; I can't just let this ride like Danny wants me to. I hope he hasn't disappeared on us.
Greg Garrison hadn't disappeared. He was working the bar at The Dugout and looking just as happy as he could be.
He must know, Clint thought as he bellied up to the bar near where Greg, one of three guys working behind the bar, was dispensing drinks and ordered a beer.
"Hi," he said to Greg as the man tapped his beer. He used a friendly smile on the bartender. Clint didn't know at this point whether Greg would recognize him or not.
"Hi yourself," Greg answered. The greeting had made him look up into Clint's face. "I know you, don't I? You been in here before?"
"Just the once. But there was some excitement we both were involved in that night. I think we have a mutual acquaintance--or had."
Greg's eyes narrowed, and then he realized where he'd seen Clint before--at Brunelli's house out on Long Island. A couple of times. And before that. The night Brunelli had worked him over in the back room here and told him he was on the hook for more. When he'd come back behind the bar, Brunelli had left with this guy.
Greg's eyes narrowed and his hands went to the shelf below the bar. Clint had little doubt that there was some sort of protection for the barmen lurking down there.
"I'm not here to make trouble," Clint quickly said, and then, "So you've heard? You know he's gone?"
"Yeah, I heard," Greg answered guardedly.
"You regret it? I don't."
The bartender visibly relaxed. "Yeah, I figure the world's better without him."
"Maybe we should talk," Clint said. "Can you pull away from the bar for a few?"
"Yeah, I guess so," Greg answered. He signaled to the other two bartenders that he was taking a break, tapped a beer for himself, and let Clint lead him with the palm of his hand on the small of his back over to a table in the far corner of the room.
"I don't know about you, but I was hoping someone else wouldn't get to him first," Clint said when they were seated and had their heads close together across the table.
"You weren't into him?"
"Some of it was over the top, even for me. The fucking was OK, but, no. He came for me--or sent his goon after me. I don't usually bottom. I like it the other way. But I didn't mind him doing me, because I had a grudge and was working out how I could get him back on that. I bet he just grabbed you too and rough sexed you too, didn't he?"
"Yes. He was an animal."
"The one time I was in here I saw you coming out of the back in a daze with him following you. I can see why he wanted you; you looked good to me too. Was that your first time with him and did he give you a choice?"
Clint was gradually working on the guy's vanity and suggesting possibilities. He wanted to get his defenses down, and Clint would try anything to get Greg talking. If it took fucking him to get him to open up, that's what Clint would do. He could tell by the looks Greg game him that the guy was interested.
"No, he didn't give me a choice," Greg answered with the anger in his voice that Clint was cultivating. "He as much beat me up as fucked me. And he told me it was just a start."
"And then he kept sending for you, didn't he?"
"Same with me. You deserve better than that, a good-looking guy like you. You should get it slow and easy, with a lot of loving. I could do that for you." Clint had worked Greg's polo shirt up from the front and had palmed the man's belly. Greg was panting. He put a hand on Clint's forearm, and Clint knew it wasn't a gesture to try to make him remove the hand. Clint had already seen at Brunelli's the effect of someone putting their hand on Greg's belly.
"You say you top guys?" Greg asked in a dreamy whisper. "The only times I've seen you--"
"I can go both ways. I prefer top, especially when I see a guy as enticing as you. Every time I saw you with Brunelli, I was thinking about it being me--of Brunelli being me, and also thinking that I'd be better to you than that fuckin' mobster was. If the guy is right, I can really enjoy topping him. And he can really enjoy it too. You think you might be the right guy for me?"
That much was true--Clint did take on the top role when he needed to. And he did think Greg deserved better than Brunelli.
They fucked on a small bed in one of the rooms for that purpose at the rear of the building. Clint spooned Greg into his belly and wrapped an arm around the other man's neck, bringing their faces together in deep kisses while Clint side split Greg from behind. Greg was putty in his hands, purring and moaning at the slow, deep fuck Clint gave him.
Clint felt the other man completely relax in his arms after they had both ejaculated. Greg nuzzled up into Clint, giving the detective a clear signal that he'd liked what he'd gotten.
"I'm glad you couldn't stand him either. It makes me feel good that there's someone else who feels like me." Clint was whispering in Greg's ear, continuing to soften him up, working on getting Greg to share and to push away some of this fog that covered the investigation. "It's not like me to wish anyone dead, but god knows I wished that on Brunelli. For what he did. I'm just sorry that I wasn't--"
"He did something to you too? What did he do to you?"
There it was. Garrison had a grudge against Brunelli for some past issue.
"I knew about Brunelli a long time before he fucked me. I have to admit I almost threw myself in his path. I needed to get close to him--to pay him back . . . for something. I just didn't have the plan yet and hadn't worked up the courage. I only wish . . ."
"You might have got what you wished," Greg murmured--and Clint almost flinched in his relief that he was finding the key to unlock Greg. "What did he do to you to make you feel like that?"
This would be the most delicate part. It had to be convincing--but not over the top, and Clint would have to spin it on the fly. "It was my brother," Clint said. "He got in with the wrong crowd and ended up in Brunelli's mob. I doubt he ever fit in. He was much too good. And he had a conscience. I don't know where he went wrong. Must have been while he was in Afghanistan."
"He was in Afghanistan?"
"Yeah. I don't remember where, though. He never wanted to talk about it. I think it got to him."
God, Clint thought. I forgot that Greg had been in Afghanistan too. He remembered now that this had been noted in Garrison's police file. I'll have to be very careful here, he thought. But it should help in the end.
Greg just sighed and settled into Clint's chest.
"Anyway, when he came home he was a different guy. Harder. We'd always been so close, but when he came in it was like there was a shell around him--like he didn't want me to know about all of the bad things in life he'd seen. Anyway, there were problems within the mob and Brunelli accused my brother of being a police plant. Then he stopped and got all nice, nice. But a couple of weeks later, my brother's body was found in a dumpster behind a grocery store. Turns out Brunelli had had him popped off just to flush out the real police plant in his gang. That's not something I could forget. I only wish I'd gotten around to--"
"It was pretty much the same with me," Greg muttered. Clint stopped dead in his tracks on the yarn he was spinning. This was exactly what he had hoped for.
"What do you mean?" was all he said, inviting Greg to spill it all. And spill most of it, Greg did.
"It wasn't a brother with me. It was my best friend. We'd been in Afghanistan together. He'd saved my life more than once and I'd returned the favor whenever I could. He came home before me. By the time I came home, he was in Brunelli's gang. A job was done on someone from another gang. My friend knew that Brunelli did that himself--and he told me that. But Brunelli managed to frame my friend and give him up for trial. He just, like handed my friend to him on a platter and the prosecutor took him."
"So you had no cause to be Brunelli's friend either."
"Oh, it goes much further than that. I was a character witness at the trial and was going to tell them what my friend had told me about Brunelli doing the killing himself."
"And did that do any good at the trial?" Clint had read the files. He knew it hadn't gotten that far. But he needed to know what was beyond that.
"I never got to testify. I got caught--entrapped, I think it's called. I'd always been curious, but up to that time I hadn't done anything about it."
"Curious? Curious about what?"
"Going with guys. Weeks before the trial started, a guy started coming on to me. I was working in a car dealership then--in the service department. That's what I was trained for. I haven't always been a bartender. I do this because the money is better in what guys who hit on me at the bar give me when I go with them. He did a real good job on me. Got me into the sack. I thought I was a top then; later--because of what happened later--I changed."
Clint let that sit in the air. He tried hard not to move a muscle. He wanted Greg to go on; this part he could get from the files.
"Anyway, the first thing I knew he was bringing me up on charges of raping him--forced sodomy they called it. And the prosecutor in my friend's case brought all of that out in court. Any character witness testimony I could have given then wouldn't help my friend. And no one wanted to help me, either. I found myself on trail instead of testifying in my friend's trial. We both went to prison. He was murdered there not long after--and it was there that I was changed into a bottom. Not all that willingly, but I came to be conditioned to it and to accept it as what I wanted."
"So here, us. This isn't--?"
"Shush. No. This was great. It's what I've come to want."
The two nuzzled briefly. Clint got the impression from Garrison's moans and the way he was moving his body against Clint that he wanted it again. But there were things that Clint needed to know first.
"That's bad--that Brunelli set your friend up. So, you had reason to go after Brunelli."
"Yeah, him and the prosecutor too."
Now we're getting into it, Clint thought. He started to gently stroke Greg's body, being careful to stay away from his belly. He wanted Greg talking now, not panting for it.
"Yeah, I've always thought that my case was some sort of put-up job between Brunelli and that prosecutor. And I'm even more sure of it from what that guy eventually did. He became a judge after that and he came to me in prison. He said he could get me out. He'd get me out if I let him fuck me whenever he wanted. I wanted out. So I agreed to it."
"And then you let him fuck you? For how long."
"Until yesterday. But no more of that. I took care of it. And Brunelli too."
"You took care of it?"
"Yeah. You don't have to feel bad that Brunelli didn't get his. That your brother isn't revenged. I did to Brunelli exactly what he'd done to others--including your brother."
"Brunelli was shivved on the bus at Riker's, I've heard," Clint said. He needed more details. He had the general picture now. But he needed details if he was going to take this to Kahn.
"I didn't know he'd get his there--at least not that quickly. But I got him there. I got him sent to Riker's. And I did it the same way he took me and my friend down. And your brother too. I'm just telling you this so you'll feel better about your brother. Brunelli got his the same way your brother did. And so did that fuckin' judge."
"You set them up, like Brunelli set your friend and you and my brother up?"
"Exactly. I made it look like Brunelli had killed a witness in a trial--even planted DNA on the body so it would lead back to Brunelli. Used that on the judge too. And I gave Brunelli an alibi for a couple of murders. And then took it back. You should have seen the cops when I did that. Took it hook, line, and sinker. Of course, giving him an alibi put in their minds that I had one too--and I bet they didn't even rethink that after I took his away."
"I bet not too," Clint muttered, making a note to stick that one to Danny hard.
"I made sure I was with Brunelli right before both times so he couldn't have another alibi and would grab at my getting one, but I made sure he was finished with me early enough for me to go and do what needed to be done. I shouldn't be telling you this, I know, but I just want you to know that you don't need to go through life kicking yourself that you didn't get revenge."
"I wanted Brunelli dead," Clint said. "I can understand what you did giving him grief, but he was like a greased pig in court. He always got away. I wanted him dead."
"So did I," Greg murmured. Clint's hands had become intensively intimate now, although he was keeping them away from Greg's belly. And Clint was sliding his cock inside Greg's butt cleavage, the hard underside of the staff rubbing up and down Greg's blossoming hole. He knew now that they were going to fuck again. He was thinking more about that than that he was continuing his story, about how revealing and damning it was.
"I overheard Jocko--his bodyguard--and that D.A.'s office guy talking one night, though, at Brunelli's house. They were plotting against him too. They were trying to get him to Riker's prison. They had someone to take care of him even before he got there. I heard them because they were both pretty steamed and loud. Brunelli didn't hear them because he was in the shower after fucking me. They had expected Brunelli's bail would be rejected when the witness in the trial turned up dead. But they didn't know what I knew--that the judge was connected with Brunelli. That's how Brunelli latched on to me. The judge told him he was laying me, that he thought Brunelli would like me--he likes pretty-boy blonds with some mileage on them; but I guess you know that yourself--and that he'd be happy to share. Brunelli laughed about how the judge had gifted me to him when he told me--like I was some sort of slave, just an object. He told me that the favor he'd done for the judge to get me wasn't worth squat--how cheap I'd been. I could have killed him there and then.
"Jocko and the government lawyer wanted to take over Brunelli's operation, but they didn't want it to look like they got him killed. Some guys in his mob would still be loyal to him. So, that told me that all I needed to do was frame him up enough to get him sent to Riker's."
"And that's how it worked out," Clint said. His mind was spinning. So the bodyguard and Hodgkins were up to their necks in it too. "Yeah, thanks. That's sweet revenge."
"I got it for both of us--and maybe for others too. You just gotta keep it under your hat."
In answer, Clint put his lips to the base of Greg's neck, put his hand on Greg's belly, and pulled the man's buttocks back onto his cock. He figured--rightly apparently--that Greg would take this as agreement to his plea for silence. He also thought that if he fucked Greg to heaven now, Greg might forget that he'd told Clint much of anything. He had been panting and mewing so hard during the last part of his confession that he probably didn't even realize he was speaking.
The hand on the belly had Garrison gasping and begging for the fuck. One long, deep slide up into a channel that had already been reamed to fit Clint followed immediately by hard pumping took all further conversation away.
When they came back out into the barroom, the crowd had thickened. Greg went back behind the bar and Clint let his eyes scan the room before he left. He didn't want to make it seem like he was rushing out, but he, in fact, felt very much like rushing out and to the precinct so that he could write this up and get his notes to Kahn. And he wanted to do it before he saw Danny. Danny would just try to convince him to leave this be--that justice had been done. But it was a judgment that had been stolen. Clint didn't care that Brunelli was gone, but he felt cheated at the way that justice was stolen by Greg.
As his eyes scanned the room, they were arrested at the sight of the Russian sailor who had taken him at Chris's days before and gotten beaten by Brunelli's bodyguard. Clint almost felt like he owed the guy. There also was the point that the Russian had had a very talented cock. The Russian had also seen him and was rising. Clint could see that the Russian's friends were at the table too. The look on the Baltic hulk's face told Clint that if the Russian didn't get to Clint, that guy sure would like to.
Not now, not this evening, Clint told himself. You need to get this written up and into Kahn's hands before anyone can convince you to change your mind.
Clint saluted the Russian and his friends, but he shrugged, indicating that he really didn't have the time now. Without letting the Russian get to him to change his mind on that, he turned and walked out of the bar and straight to the subway stop. Maybe after this all spun out he could meet up with the Russian again. Clint didn't think that good fucking he had been getting when Jocko intervened was any more completed than the Russian probably did. It wasn't at all that Clint was being a tease with him.
* * * *
Clint had taken his time getting to the precinct. He'd gotten off the subway at Central Park and just walked for a couple of hours. It wasn't just Danny he had to struggle with on just letting this be. It was himself too. Greg wasn't a bad guy. He'd had his reasons. And the legal system hadn't caught up with Brunelli. It hadn't caught up with Judge Pendleton either--and probably never would have. How long had he blackmailed Greg into having sex with him now, Clint thought. Five, six years--and that after letting Greg rot in prison for a couple of years on something Pendleton had set up.
The record had shown that the guy Greg had been convicted of raping had been murdered a couple of months after that trial. And that case was still open. Greg had been in prison by then, but suggestions had been put in the record that he had something to do with that. The judge had put him in a corner. No, a cage. Greg couldn't even have gotten a job if the judge hadn't set him up in one when Greg got out of prison. And the judge had callously given Greg to Brunelli, who the judge no doubt knew was a brutal cocker.
No, Judge Pendleton deserved it. But he deserved to be caught at what he did and punished by society, not punished by a vigilante like Greg. Even the witness in Brunelli's current trial had been a thug and an uncaught murderer in his own trial. Maybe Danny was right. Just let them go any way someone can manage to get rid of them.
Clint had been sitting on a park bench. Even when he rose to leave, he didn't know whether he was going to the precinct to write out a report on what Greg had said or go back to his apartment and forget all about what he had said. Even if he gave an accounting to Kahn, there's no saying what the police department would do with it. Garrison could just deny that he'd said any of that--and the department might welcome him doing that.
Clint found the squad room deserted when he got to the precinct. He sat down at the computer at his desk and started tapping away--with one finger of each hand. He had been scheduled for a touch typing class so many times he'd lost count. And each time a murder investigation had intervened.
He had almost finished writing up his unusual interview with Greg Garrison, being careful not to note that he'd had his cock up the man's ass during the entire interview--he'd admit that to Kahn . . . maybe . . . but he wouldn't write it down--when the phone on his desk rang.
"There you are." It was Danny's voice. "I kept trying you on your cell phone and you've got it turned off."
"Sorry, yes I do. I didn't realize that." But of course he did. He hadn't wanted it to ring while he was working on seducing Garrison. "What gives? Where's everyone?"
"We're down here on the docks. There's been another one. You should be here."
"I'm on my way. Where, exactly?"
"Go to the end of Christopher Street, point your nose at the Larnaka Star where it's docked, and then you'll find us between some containers off to the right. You'll be able to pick us out because of the police cars and the bright lights."
"Right. What a surprise. Be there soon."
Clint just stood over the body of the beaten man when he got to the docks. He didn't say anything until Danny nudged him.
"Yeah, I recognize him. From the interview yesterday that you conducted in the tombs. I guess it doesn't matter much to Brunelli--having his possible alibi bop out on him. He's not in the best condition today either." Clint was thinking on just how long it had been since he'd seen Greg Garrison alive. And he was remembering that Garrison seemed really alive, keyed up at having gotten his revenge on both Brunelli and Pendleton--not to mention a good fucking from Clint. Something inside Clint made him glad that Garrison had gotten his own before someone beat him to death and left him out here on the docks between two shipping containers half clothed.
Were these the same containers the stevedore had started fucking Clint between the other day? Yes, he thought they were--or ones that had replaced those. Was there any connection? Yes, possibly. Clint, the detective, wasn't about to overlook any possibility.
Danny was talking to Burton Kahn. "We need to know how long he's been out here, Lieutenant. And put a rush on the workup too. Brunelli was real pissed that this guy reneged on his alibi."
"You can't kill Brunelli again, Danny," Clint said, turning his head away from the corpse of Greg Garrison. "And you can't pin this on him either. You had Garrison in hand yourself yesterday when Brunelli was marched off to his death."
"It could have been one of his guys, though," Danny said stubbornly. "Maybe the bodyguard, Wilde, before we caught him."
"Wilde was caught so far down I-95 that he must have left as soon as we took Brunelli into custody. And Wilde's been in custody since last evening. Isn't that right, Lieutenant?"
"Yes, he has. And he's singing like a bird. We got the guy who knifed Brunelli too. It was an inside job. The bodyguard admits to setting it up, and he's saying that Hodgkins was in on an attempt to deep six Brunelli and take over his operation."
That's taken care of then, Clint thought. That was a main reason for me to turn in the summary of what Greg said. We needed to get the bodyguard and Hodgkins pinned down for their part in this. What he said, however, was, "Then the bodyguard is out too. I was with Garrison earlier today. I can vouch that he was alive at least until a bit after 5:00 p.m. So can others at The Dugout bar. He was working."
"And you went to see him?" Danny asked. Clint turned to see his partner looking intently at him. He was getting tired of Danny's attitude in all of this.
"Yes. And don't hurry too fast on those lab results. Because when you get them, you'll find out that my DNA is in there too."
"Shit, Clint. You just can't keep your pants up, can you?"
"I don't see that that's any concern of yours, Danny." Clint shot back. "And I had my reasons, even though that don't seem to matter much anymore. But, keeping us on the important subject, my vote is that this was a another killing by the serial killer--that it had nothing to do with Brunelli. I say we get real justice for this man rather than just sweeping everything that comes along into Brunelli's grave. I say we get cracking on those interviews with the crew of the Larnaka Star." With that, he turned and walked away.
He walked and walked and walked. Unsure again whether his steps were taking him back to the squad room at the precinct, home, or to the gay bars to try to drown himself in mind-numbing sex.
When he reached the squad room, Clint went directly to his computer, which was still on, pulled up the file he had created earlier in the day, and pressed the delete button. Yet another judgment stolen, he thought. Without Greg being here to question, nothing that Clint had written could be taken as the truth.
"Note to self," he said aloud as he stood up from the desk in the deserted squad room, "never let yourself get this close to a case again."
"Another note to self," he muttered as he headed for the door. "Let's get wasted. Then let's get this serial killing pinned down."